If you’ve gone looking for raptors on a clear day, your heart has probably leaped at the sight of a large, soaring bird in the distance– perhaps an eagle or osprey. However, f the bird is soaring with its wings raised in a V and making wobbly circles, it's likely a Turkey Vulture. These birds ride thermals in the sky and use their keen sense of smell to find fresh carcasses. They are a consummate scavenger, cleaning up the countryside one bite of their sharply hooked bill at a time, and never mussing a feather on their bald heads. Turkey Vultures are large dark birds with long, broad wings and a red head. Bigger than other raptors except for eagles and condors, they have long "fingers" at their wingtips and long tails that extend past their toe tips in flight. In flight Black Vultures hold their broad, rounded wings flat and angled slightly forward. The tail is very short and rounded. They have small bare heads, narrow but strongly hooked bills, sooty black plumage and neat white stars under the wingtips, Black Vultures are almost dapper. Whereas Turkey Vultures are lanky birds with teetering flight, Black Vultures are compact birds with broad wings, short tails, and powerful wingbeats. The two species often associate. The Black Vulture makes up for its poor sense of smell by following Turkey Vultures to carcasses. Highly social birds with fierce family loyalty, Black Vultures share food with relatives, feeding young for months after they’ve fledged. Vultures’ naked heads are an adaptation to reduce the risk of feather fouling, picking up diseases from carcasses. Their stomachs have strong enzymes that kill off dangerous toxins and microorganisms. Vultures play an important role in nature. The conservation status of vultures is of particular concern to humans. Vultures are part of nature’s clean-up crew. They rid the landscape of deteriorating carcasses and help curb the spread of dangerous diseases and bacteria.